Or We Will Repeat
Along with every historian, I have maintained that the North won the Civil War but lost the peace. For decades after the Civil War to the present day, a large number of whites in America want to rewrite our history of racism.
Donald the Dumb thought that Robert E. Lee was a good role model. Trump was correct if you want a role model for white supremacy. Rep. James Clyburn reacted to Trump’s comment. “The fact of the matter is, Robert E. Lee was a great tactician, not a great person. Robert E. Lee was a slave owner and a brutal slave master. Thankfully, he lost that war and I find it kind of interesting the president is now glorifying a loser. He always said that he hated losers. Robert E. Lee was a loser.”
In the aftermath of the Civil War, more than 1500 public memorials and monuments were erected honoring the leaders of the Confederacy. Over 700 are statues and monuments, many of which were in honor of Robert E. Lee. Nevertheless, on September 8th, there is one less statue with the removal of a 12-ton statue of Lee in Richmond, VA.
George Santayana warned us, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s comment is correct at two levels. The first is that the removal of statues and monuments is important. We see these items like statues as reminders of the racist mindset of many white Americans.
However, removing statues is merely the first and tentative step toward the time when we address racism. The physical removal of statues doesn’t change the mindset of white supremacists. Therefore, all Americans will have to address racism. That issue has been a part of the American psyche for over four centuries. As a white person, it is obvious. However, blacks and communities of color face racism 24/7.
Trump, the presidential white supremacist, said, “Hitler did a lot of good things.” While I am not sure what Trump was referencing regarding Hitler. Nevertheless, the people of Germany disagree with Trump. In the past 76 years since Germany lost WWII, there have been no statues, monuments, or memorials to Hitler or any other Nazi generals. However, America has named a litany of things after Robert E. Lee. That is blatant racism.
Robert E. Lee is the posthumous leader of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. It is usually just called the Lost Cause. On January 6th, we saw white supremacists attack the Capitol. After 156 years, the Lost Cause lost again.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) composed this chart beginning with the Civil War to 2014. It depicts various monuments, statues, schools, etc., in the past century and a half.
This is a list of memorial sites related to the Confederacy.
This is a list of memorials to Robert E. Lee.